President Bola Tinubu

Afenifere to Tinubu: Seek Debt Relief, Block Leakages

Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, has
advised President Bola Tinubu to take a 5-pronged approach to prevent the
country from “total socio-economic dislocation”.

In a statement signed by Jare Ajayi, national publicity secretary of the group, Afenifere said the current economic situation in the country needed far-reaching and deep-rooted steps for it to be ameliorated.

The organisation said Tinubu should seek debt relief from “our major creditors”.

“Another step is to drastically reduce the size of government at all levels. The third is to block areas of leakages of public resources, especially finance. Fourth is to embark on policies or programmes that are capable of engaging millions of unemployed people, old and young, in the country.

“The fifth step is to ensure that security and safety of lives and properties become permanent features in the Nigeria firmament”, the group said.

Afenifere said the five steps suggested would have to be pursued simultaneously for the inherent benefits to be harnessed effectively and promptly.

“At the moment, Nigeria’s debt profile is so huge that it is spending about 97 percent of its revenue to service the debts, according to many official sources, including the Debt Management Office (DMO), federal budget office, ministry of finance and the World Bank.

“It would be recalled that when the World Bank disclosed that Nigeria spent 96.3 per cent of its revenue to service its debt in 2022, the then minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed objected, saying it was ‘only’ 80.6 per cent.

“If a person earns N100 and has to use N80.5 of it to service his or her debts, how would N19.5 be enough to take care of feeding, transport, health, education, care for the family etc”, the statement read.

Afenifere warned that very soon there might be no more funds for the provision of social services and infrastructure.

To prevent possible social chaos in this respect, the group said Tinubu needed to embark on diplomatic shuttles “to get debt forgiveness from our creditors”.

Afenifere added that there was an urgent need to drastically cut down on the emolument of public officials, especially political office holders, block the holes through which public funds leaked and wage a serious war against corrupt officers (in or out of office).

“It is only by doing these three things that those we approach for debt forgiveness would listen to us,” Afenifere said.

The organisation also tasked the Tinubu administration to resuscitate moribund industries in the country.

“Doing so will create employment, reduce crimes, boost the nation’s economy, strengthen the naira and
earn the country foreign exchange. Government should refrain from increasing taxes and fees for now but explore ways of enhancing productivity and reducing pains,” Afenifere said.

The group commended Tinubu for the decision to review the N8,000 palliative meant to cushion the effect of petrol subsidy removal.

“Palliatives, to be really helpful and effective should be welfare-enhancing in nature and not be in the form of unregulated cash dole-out. Such money should rather be channelled towards the things that cash is used for,” Afenifere said.

The group stressed the need for the President to prevail on electricity distribution companies to stop their attempts to increase tariffs for now.

“The Discos must not be allowed to deepen the miseries of hapless Nigerians. Similarly, recent hikes in school fees across the country should be rescinded so as to prevent more
hardship for the people and a higher number of school drop-outs,” Afenifere concluded.